Our parish school begins every morning with a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. I am told the Pledge has become controversial. Apparently, some find it offensive. It is clear not everyone shares an equal love of our country. OLR nevertheless believes a Catholic school should intentionally seek to foster such a love.
As Catholic Christians, we owe our highest allegiance to the Triune God, the Father, Son, and Spirit. Our next allegiance is to our parents as required by the 4th Commandment to “honor thy father and mother.” This honoring of one’s parents begins in youth with the childlike belief that mom and dad can do no wrong. Every little kid thinks his parents are perfect. By adulthood he realizes that they are rather flawed. Yet his love for them remains and even grows as he discovers their accomplishments as a family were made despite these flaws, not on account of imagined perfection.
So it should be with the love of country. Patriotism is not the virtue of blind, uncritical devotion. What merit is there in loving what you think has never let you down? Patriotism – the word even contains the root word for father – means adopting a posture of gratitude as a son should to a father.
There is an old Latin maxim: Ubi amor, ibi oculus. “Where there is love, there is an eye.” This (literal) insight reminds us that something must be loved before it can be fully understood. When we love God, we know better His love for us. When we love our parents, we learn to recognize the previously hidden sacrifices they have made for us. When we love our country, we are made wise to the blessings living in America affords us each day.
At OLR we promote the virtue of patriotism and recite the Pledge of Allegiance with enthusiasm. We do so, not because our country is perfect, but because it is ours. We do so because it is good to love one’s father, whether the Lord of the World, the head of the home, or the country of our birth.